Balances of budget authority--These are amounts of budget authority provided in previous years that have not been outlayed.

Obligated balances--These are amounts that have been obligated but not yet outlayed. Unobligated balances are amounts that have not been obligated and that remain available for obligation under law.

Baseline--A policy neutral set of estimates designed to show the effect on continuing current law through the period covered by the budget.

Breach--A breach is the amount by which new budget authority or outlays within a category of discretionary appropriations for a fiscal year is above the cap on new budget authority or outlays for that category for that year.

Budget--The Budget of the United States Government sets forth the President's comprehensive financial plan for allocating resources and indicates the President's priorities for the Federal Government.

Budget authority (BA)--Budget authority is the authority provided by Federal law to incur financial obligations that will result in outlays. Specific forms of budget authority include:

Budgetary resources--Budgetary resources comprise new budget authority, unobligated balances of budget authority, direct spending authority, and obligation limitations.

Budget totals--The budget includes totals for budget authority, outlays, and receipts. Some presentations in the budget distinguish on-budget totals from off-budget totals. On-budget totals reflect the transactions of all Federal Government entities except those excluded from the budget totals by law. Off-budget totals reflect the transactions of Government entities that are excluded from the on-budget totals by law. Currently excluded are the social security trust funds (Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds) and the Postal Service Fund. The on- and off-budget totals are combined to derive a total for Federal activity.

Cap--This is the term commonly used to refer to legal limits on the budget authority and outlays for each fiscal year provided in by discretionary appropriations. A sequester is required if an appropriation for a category causes a breach in the cap.

Credit program account--A credit program account receives an appropriation for the subsidy cost of a direct loan or loan guarantee program, disburses such cost to a financing account for the program.

Deficit--A deficit is the amount by which outlays exceed receipts.

Direct loan--A direct loan is a disbursement of funds by the Government to a non-Federal borrower under a contract that requires the repayment of such funds with or without interest. The term includes the purchase of, or participation in, a loan made by another lender. The term does not include the acquisition of a federally guaranteed loan in satisfaction of default claims or the price support loans of the Commodity Credit Corporation. (Cf. loan guarantee.)

Direct spending--Direct spending, sometimes called mandatory spending, is a category of outlays from budget authority provided in law other than appropriations acts, entitlement authority, and the budget authority for the food stamp program. (Cf. discretionary appropriations.)

Discretionary appropriations--Discretionary appropriations is a category of budget authority that comprises budgetary resources (except those provided to fund direct-spending programs) provided in appropriations acts. (Cf. direct spending.)

Emergency spending--Emergency spending is spending that the President and the Congress have designated as an emergency requirement. Such spending is not subject to the limits on discretionary spending, if it is discretionary spending, or the pay-as-you-go rules, if it is direct spending.

Entitlement authority--A provision of law that legally obligates the Federal government to make specified payments to any person or government that meets the eligibility requirements established by that law. Section 250(18) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 specifies that the term includes, for the purposes of defining direct spending under the Act, a list of so-called mandatory appropriations in the joint explanatory statement of managers accompanying the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1990.

Federal funds--Federal funds are the moneys collected and spent by the Government other than those designated as trust funds. Federal funds include general, special, public enterprise, and intragovernmental funds. (Cf. trust funds.)

Financing account--A financing account receives the cost payments from a credit program account and includes other cash flows to and from the Government resulting from direct loan obligations or loan guarantee commitments made on or after October 1, 1991. At least one financing account is associated with each credit program account. For programs with direct and guaranteed loans, there are separate financing accounts for direct loans and guaranteed loans. The transactions of the financing accounts are not included in the budget totals. (Cf. liquidating account.)

Fiscal year--The fiscal year is the Government's accounting period. It begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th, and is designated by the calendar year in which it ends. Before 1976, the fiscal year began on July 1 and ended on June 30.

General fund--The general fund consists of accounts for receipts not earmarked by law for a specific purpose, the proceeds of general borrowing, and the expenditure of these moneys.

Governmental receipts--These are collections from the public that result primarily from the exercise of the Government's sovereign or governmental powers. Governmental receipts consist mostly of individual and corporate income taxes and social insurance taxes, but also include excise taxes, compulsory user charges, customs duties, court fines, certain license fees, and deposits of earnings by the Federal Reserve System. Gifts and donations are also counted as governmental receipts. They are compared to outlays in calculating a surplus or deficit. (Cf. offsetting collections.)

Liquidating account--A liquidating account includes all cash flows to and from the Government resulting from direct loan obligations and loan guarantee commitments prior to October 1, 1991. (Cf. financing account.)

Loan guarantee--A loan guarantee is any guarantee, insurance, or other pledge with respect to the payment of all or a part of the principal or interest on any debt obligation of a non-Federal borrower to a non-Federal lender. The term does not include the insurance of deposits, shares, or other withdrawable accounts in financial institutions. (Cf. direct loan.)

Mandatory spending--See direct spending.

Intragovernmental funds--Intragovernmental funds are accounts for business-type or market-oriented activities conducted primarily within and between Government agencies and financed by offsetting collections that are credited directly to the fund.

Obligations--Obligations are binding agreements that will result in outlays, immediately or in the future. Budgetary resources must be available before obligations can be incurred legally.

Off-budget--See budget totals.

Offsetting collections--Offsetting collections are collections from the public that result from business-type or market-oriented activities and collections from other Government accounts. These collections are deducted from gross disbursements in calculating outlays, rather than counted in Governmental receipt totals. Some offsetting collections are credited directly to appropriation or fund accounts; others, called offsetting receipts, are credited to receipt accounts. The authority to spend offsetting collections is a form of budget authority. (Cf. governmental receipts.)

Offsetting receipts--See offsetting collections.

On-budget--See budget totals.

Outlays--Outlays are the measure of Government spending. They are payments to liquidate obligations (other than the repayment of debt), net of refunds and offsetting collections. Outlays generally are recorded on a cash basis, but also include cash-equivalent transactions, the subsidy cost of direct loans and loan guarantees, and interest accrued on public issues of Treasury debt.

Pay-as-you-go (PAYGO)--This term refers to requirements in law that result in a sequester if the estimated combined result of legislation affecting direct spending or receipts is an increase in the deficit for a fiscal year.

Public enterprise funds--Public enterprise funds are revolving accounts for business or market-oriented activities conducted primarily with the public and financed by offsetting collections that are credited directly to the fund.

Receipts--See governmental receipts and offsetting collections.

Sequester--A sequester is the cancellation of budgetary resources provided by discretionary appropriations or direct spending legislation, following various procedures prescribed in law. A sequester may occur in response to a discretionary appropriation that causes a breach or in response to increases in the deficit resulting from the combined result of legislation affecting direct spending or receipts (referred to as a "pay-as-you-go" sequester).

Special funds--Special funds are Federal fund accounts for receipts earmarked for specific purposes and the associated expenditure of those receipts. (Cf. trust funds.)

Subsidy--This term means the same as cost when it is used in connection with Federal credit programs.

Surplus--A surplus is the amount by which receipts exceed outlays.

Supplemental appropriation--A supplemental appropriation is one enacted subsequent to a regular annual appropriations act when the need for funds is too urgent to be postponed until the next regular annual appropriations act.

Trust funds--Trust funds are accounts, designated by law as trust funds, for receipts earmarked for specific purposes and the associated expenditure of those receipts. (Cf. special funds.)

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